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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index


Handbook of Religious Experience

Hood, Ralph W., Jr. (editor) (1995).
Birmingham, AL: Religious Education Press.


ISBN: 0-89135-094-2

Description: Hardcover, viii + 661 pages.

Contents: Foreword, 24 chapters divided into 7 parts: 1. Faith Traditions and Religious Experience, 2. The Broader Social Context of Religious Experience, 3. Depth Psychologies and Religious Experience, 4. Major Psychological Orientations and Religious Experience, 5. Specific Psychological Perspectives and Religious Experience, 6. Specialty Conterns and Religious Experience, 7. Education and Facilitation of Religious Experience; contributors, name index, subject index.

Contributors: Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Herbert Burhenn, Michael J. Donahue, Susan F. Greenwood, Fredrica R. Halligan, Peter Hill, Nils G. Holm, Gui-Young Hong, Ralph W. hood, Jr., Ronald E. Hopson, Janet L. Jacobs, Lee A. Kirkpatrick, James Michael Lee, Beverly J. (Macy) McCallister, Daniel N. McIntosh, N. Newton Malony, Fouad Moughrabi, Mary Jo Neitz, Kari E. Nurmi, Kurt Openlander, Margaret M. Poloma, Kaisa Puhakka, Carole A. Rayburn, Edward P. Shafranske, Bernard Spilka, Kalevi Tamminen, David M. Wulff.

Excerpt(s): The weight of evidence on drug-induced states is to the effect that alterations of awareness permit but do not necessitate religious awareness. To respond merely to altered body states or to see the world in varieties of aesthetic alteration is neither necessarily numinous nor mystical. Yet to have a religious feeling, numinous or mystical, elicited by psychedelics is something that is not uncommon. If one surmises from the available empirical literature it would appear that somewhere between 35 and 50 percent of psychedelic participants report religious experiences of a mystical or numinous nature, even without religious contexts. The figure may rise to as high as 90 percent, but only if one counts as religious experience any imagery of a religious nature, or any religious language used to describe the experience. Yet the curious fact is that the percentage of reported religious experience elicited by psychedelics under unprompted conditions is no more than that reported for subjects in the general population. Thus, the surprising fact is that researchers have focused so heavily upon drug elicited states that are on par with self reported experiences in the general population. ...

However, it has also been shown that for identically described experiences, those identified as facilitated by drugs are less positively evaluated than those identified as facilitated by prayer, especially among more dogmatic persons. This probably partly accounts for the fact that in national surveys psychedelic drugs seldom show up as a facilitator of mystical experience, while phenomena such as prayer and moments of quiet reflection are often cited as facilitators.

The implications of drug facilitated religious awareness are paradoxical. In a culture largely hostile to the use of drugs to facilitate religious awareness the lasting importance of religious experience may be lost.

For those who argue the Jamesian position that drugs facilitate religious experience, but that such experiences must be judged by their fruits, it is curious that we have few studies of the actual effort to use psychedelics in a sacramental sense. Perhaps the parallel case is in the Native American use of peyote, the successful institutionalization of which is well documented in the anthropological literature. (pages 584-585)



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